At The City Paper, Joey Garrison has a must-read primer for today's school board elections.
1. Will big money carry the day?
Leading up to last year’s school board races in Denver, Colo., outside money flowed to three candidates at levels that city had never seen in politically charged contests that garnered national attention.
The end result was a mixed bag: Two out of three of the candidates with the largest campaign war chests prevailed.
Denver isn’t a perfect test case for Nashville. There, candidates raised in excess of $200,000, with some receiving tens of thousands of dollars from groups such as the education advocacy organization Stand For Children. Nashville hasn’t seen this kind of money. Still, this election cycle no doubt represents a new high-dollar era for Nashville’s school board, with more than $400,000 raised overall.
Margaret Dolan, an Ingram Industries executive running in West Nashville’s District 9, has collected $112,000 in her race, smashing the previous Metro school board fundraising record and distancing herself financially from her four opponents. Amy Frogge, an attorney and active public school parent, boasts the second largest campaign war chest in District 9 at slightly more than $20,000.
Dolan has used her money to air a television commercial, which is virtually unheard of for school board races in Nashville. The ad has received plenty of play during the ongoing Olympics.
Elissa Kim, who works for the teacher recruitment organization Teach For America, isn’t far behind in the money game, raising $84,000 in her race in District 5, as she seeks to unseat school board chair Gracie Porter, whose fundraising haul is less than $20,000. Kim has used her money on a massive campaign-mailer blitz targeting likely voters.
2. Can Will Pinkston go from political insider to political officeholder?
There’s a dangerous tendency for some in Nashville’s chatter class to anoint the seemingly better-connected, courthouse pick as the presumed winner in local elections.
But ask former Councilman Mike Jameson how his race in March turned out for General Sessions Judge. With Jameson’s local political name-recognition, insiders were certain they had found the frontrunner. Instead, attorney Rachel Bell thumped him in the Democratic primary.